Over the years I have worked for several small businesses based in South Australia with an online presence selling physical goods through their own website, I have helped businesses start their online store from scratch and also redesigned stores to become more mobile friendly to help boost sales and grow the organic search traffic through google. Ecommerce websites are a complicated beast, one thing not setup correctly and you can easily face no coming orders without having any idea why customers aren’t purchasing any products. Whilst saying that I have also learned a lot of ways to easily boost sales and return customers without a whole lot of investment.
- Build your site on a rock-solid foundation ( framework, Hosting, Security & Monitoring )
- Make it Load FAST
- Make it easy to use
- Shipping Fees are a killer
- Choosing a payment provider
Build your Ecommerce Site on rock-solid foundation
There are many different ecommerce frameworks available to choose from, if you are planning to be running your business in the long term then it is crucial to pick the right platform from the beginning. It can be extremely expensive to have all your products and pages transferred from one platform to another if you decide that you need a feature that isn’t available on your ecommerce platform. I personally like to use WordPress because it gives me full access to be able to customise the websites design and functionality to suit the needs of the website. WordPress is also the worlds most used platform for websites and is heavily covered with documentation and support.
First things first, make sure you choose a good hosting provider. There are a lot of hosting companies which sell dirt cheap hosting where your website is jammed into a server overseas with 1000s of other websites all competing for server resources. Look around at different reviews of web hosting companies, generally you do get what you pay for so generally if your paying more than $15 per month you should be good. It is also a good idea to make sure that your chosen company has servers in your country, this is especially important if you only sell products in Australia to ensure that there is minimal latency between your website and your customers but if you are planning to sell internationally it is important to choose a location roughly in the middle of the countries you most sell to. When you have a global audience it is even more important to use a global CDN (Content delivery Network) to reduce the load from the server and serve larger files on your site.
Security & Backups
I cannot stress this enough! Make sure you keep your site up to date, backed up and have a security plugin installed on your online store. Not having these simple things in place can cost you days’ worth of potential sales not to mention a possible lawsuit if you have customers personal and credit card information stored on your website. I like to use WPMUDEVS suite of security and backup tools to keep my customers data and my websites safe from potential hackers.
Monitoring & Analytics
Monitoring is another one of those crucial things, you need to setup monitoring on uptime and response time to make sure that your site is always available to your customers when they go to your website. Google Analytics is also great to measure your sites loading time and to track how far your customers get through the checkout process
Page Load Time
Page load time is another critical thing and something that is difficult to get right on a global ecommerce store when you don’t have the sales numbers yet to build out your websites infrastructure. I like to use multiple page load tests in different locations to grasp an idea of how quickly your site will load in different countries. Page caching can help but it can break ecommerce sites, especially ones that geolocate a customer’s location to show prices in their currency.
Ease of Use
I have found that some of the simplest tweaks to the user experience of your website can make the biggest impact to your sales numbers, the aim of the game is to make it as simple as possible for your customers to
- Find the product they are looking for. You can easily make it easier for customers to find what they are looking for by displaying product categories in a sidebar on the site or by adding a search bar to your header, you could also show customers products frequently bought together on the product page
- Buy the product. You can make the checkout experience easier by removing unnecessary fields on the checkout page and offer one click checkout for customers that already have an account on your website
Shipping fees can be one of those easy ways to make a hot potential sale turn cold, these days it is almost expected that shipping will be included for free especially in countries like the USA if your able to see if you can include shipping in your product prices or make free shipping standard for orders a certain value.
There are a lot of people that refuse to make an online purchase unless they can use PayPal, unfortunately PayPal does take one of largest percentage cuts compared to other credit card processors. Personally I Like to use a combination of PayPal and Stripe to offer customers PayPal but also an easier checkout process through the site with stripe which allows customers to save their credit card details for future purchases.
Well those are just a few of the things I have learned from managing ecommerce stores. I hope that this post helped to guide you in the right direction and helps to keep you from making the mistakes that I made